My Filip De Coene Hybrid was one of my favorite knives. It was also my first custom. The fit and finish was beyond compare and even now, a dozen or so customs in, it still stands out.
But alas I needed a lock or some kind of blade safety and so when I sold the Hybrid I promised myself that I'd circle back around and get one of Filip's locking blades. The crown jewel of his knife pattern stable is the Explorer flipper, a titanium knife designed by Antoine Van Looke and based on an ancient fixed blade, not Oldowan old, but very, very old. Van Looke's own fixed blade has a very rustic look to it, but when translated into De Coene's minimal high tech design aesthetic the result is striking. The original Explorer was a big knife and I am not a fan of big folders. So when I talked with Filip I asked him to make me a smaller version, a Mini. A few years passed and he finally has space on his bench to make me a knife and we start talking. All of the pictures below are from Filipe.
I am a huge fan of blue, so I wanted blue G10 scales. I could have opted for carbon fiber, but the weight savings is minimal and bright blue G10 is quite striking. He gave me the choice of a framelock or a liner lock and I picked a framelock, wanting to keep the knife as slim as possible (and yes, this will be a knife I use and carry). Finally, unlike the original Explorer Filip designed, I wanted a clip on my because again, this will be a user. The blade steel is going to be S30V, which is plenty good for me, especially with a heat treat that renders it a bit harder than Chris Reeve's S30V that comes in at 57-59 HRc. Filip has been very diligent at keeping me up to date with pictures, so I thought I'd share them with you.
Here is a size comparison between the Mini Explorer and the full-sized version of the knife:
Here is a shot of the Mini Explorer in hand alone for scale:
Here the knife is being fitted for its blue G10 scale:
The pivot was something we discussed and ultimately I decided not to go crazy and just get a basic pivot. This is not an ostentatious knife so the pivot is simple:
By opting for the framelock the knife will be relatively thin:
We were going to do an off the shelf clip, but as you can see, it wasn't working:
In the end, despite my aversion to carved clips, the look required it:
Filip isn't a "name" maker in the knife world, but his quality is top notch and his communication and flexibility in the process is amazing. He doesn't make a ton of knives either, so its hard to get one from him, but the ones that are out there are pretty darn awesome. I think this one will join those ranks. Watch my Instagram or Youtube channel for this beauty to land in my possession.